9.31 AM Wednesday, 27 September 2023
  • City Fajr Shuruq Duhr Asr Magrib Isha
  • Dubai 04:52 06:06 12:13 15:36 18:14 19:27
27 September 2023 $dmi_content.escapeHtml4($rs.get('weather.code.w${report.significantWeather.code}')) Max: 38 °

Charting the rise of Dubai

Author Jim Krane says he has spent a year writing the story of Dubai. (SUPPLIED)

By Aimee Greaves

The i's are being dotted and t's crossed on a new book charting Dubai's growth from a quiet fishing village to a thriving regional business hub.

City of Gold, Dubai and the Dream of Capitalism will be published in the United States at the same time as the British version, Dubai: The Story of the World's Fastest City, in September.

Written by former Associated Press journalist Jim Krane, the book aims to tell the true story of the city that has grown phenomenally in just 30 years.

Having moved here in 2005 from Iraq, where he covered the war for more than a year, Krane, 44, was fascinated by the contrast between Dubai and Baghdad.

"This place was being built as quickly as Iraq was falling down," he says.

With little knowledge of the city prior to his arrival, Krane set about finding out more, only to discover that beyond the vast array of tourist guides, there was almost nothing written about Dubai. So he decided to change that.

"There has since been an academic book published, but when I started, there seemed to be a gap in the market – I couldn't find any books in the West that approached the story of Dubai in a serious way," says the American.

The author says he didn't really understand the hype surrounding Dubai when he first spent a night in Bur Dubai on his way back to Iraq following a holiday.

"I had heard of the islands shaped like palm trees but didn't know much more before moving here," he recalls. "But when I came back for work I found an amazing place. I've never seen anything like it in terms of the rush in development."

As a Dubai-based Gulf correspondent until 2007, Krane covered the economic boom and developments that have transformed the city. He travelled and reported extensively around the Gulf as well as Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan.

For his book, he has interviewed more than 100 people over the past year to add insight and colour. And it's not all bright lights and sunny times as he attempts to paint a realistic picture of Dubai, combining the good with some of the bad.

For instance, he strongly believes the environmental impact the city's rapid development has had could have been avoided.

"Energy is heavily subsidised so no one pays the true cost of air conditioning and fuel, which has encouraged waste," he says. "The architecture is also very inefficient but it doesn't have to be that way. The technology is already on the market and with a few upgrades, buildings would not be as expensive to run. However, because energy is so cheap there isn't the incentive to change practices."

Dubai as a city, says, has enough positives to take it into the next generation, despite the global credit crunch, and is the best place to ride out the financial storm.

"A lot of people have been laid off, a lot of people are leaving, but it hasn't hit rock bottom," says the author who hails from Cleveland, Ohio. "This will improve things for those who stay because it will take the pressure off. The downturn has solved a lot of the short-term problems."